If you have been following my blog for any period of time you will know that I frequently like to talk about the lack of women at Imperial. As most of my friends will tell you, this is something I feel pretty strongly about (no for real, even if they care 0% about the gender ratio, I rant about it so often they will still be able to tell you why it can be hard to be a woman here). I do think it’s important for Imperial ladies to stick together and to know what to expect so here we go, from one female to fresher to (hopefully!) another.
1. Don’t be surprised if you move in and find that there are only a couple of other girls on your floor/in your house. My kitchen actually defies The Ratio as there are 6 girls and 1 guy but this is because they don’t house girls in the basement or ground floor of Fisher so the girls are concentrated on the upper floors. I could write a whole blog post about why I disagree with this policy but I’ll save that for another day… Anyway, don’t be surprised to find yourself surrounded by lads. It’s unlikely there will be no girls so make an effort to find them and get talking!
2. Don’t be surprised if you overhear boys talking about how there are no hot girls on their courses. This is the most ridiculous thing that an Imperial guy can come out with. Guys who say this will probably also deny the fact that not enough is being done to encourage women into scientific and engineering careers. They’re massive fools. You are not here to act as eye candy for them, you’re here because you worked damn hard to get in to a world class university and get an amazing degree in an exciting field.
3. Make an effort to make close friendships with girls. A lot of my best and closest friends at Imperial are guys and I absolutely love them all but I think it’s really important to have girl friends here. I have an equally amazing group of lady friends who I can talk to about anything and just get stuff that the boys don’t.
4. Talk to older students about their experiences being a woman in your field. I’ve been lucky to meet a few older students doing awesome stuff in biology and I’ve found it really useful chatting to them about how they’ve found it pursuing their masters and doctorates.
5. Join a girl club! There are a few societies and clubs at Imperial for girls and people who support girls! WSET , FemSoc and stuff like Robogals, who organise for school pupils to come in to Imperial and learn to build lego robots in a bid to increase the exposure of young girls to the possibility of pursuing engineering. I’m not currently in any of these societies as they just weren’t right for me this year, but they do really good work and are well worth checking out!
Being a lady scientist is pretty great and education for girls about all the possibilities the world of science, medicine and engineering holds for them is improving all the time. You should definitely be proud of being a female student at Imperial at this time. Sounds pretty cheesey but you’re paving the way for the girls who will come after you. For more advice, check out Mala’s post about surviving Imperial as a girl.